The analysis on planned local authority spending on children and young people's services reveals expenditure fell from £7.9bn in 2012 to £7.6bn in 2017. While Labour says this is a ‘nominal cut’ of over £300 million taking inflation into account, it represents a real-term cut of £957m.
Published today, the analysis coincides with a visit by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner to Swindon where all Sure Start children’s centres have been closed down by the Conservative-run council. According to Labour, spending on children’s and young people’s services in this part of the country, the South West, has fallen by £51 million since 2012.
It follows a warning by the Local Government Association in January that many local authorities are struggling to provide support for vulnerable children and families.
Department for Education (DfE) figures last year showed spending on children’s services between 2010-11 and 2015-16 decreased by 9 per cent in real terms. One of the biggest falls in spending was on Sure Start and early years.
Labour’s education secretary Angela Rayner, who is today launching a three-month roadshow to consult on the party’s plans for a National Education Service (NES) that will provide ‘cradle-to-grave learning’, said, ‘Children’s services provide a lifeline to thousands of vulnerable children and families across the country, so it is incredibly worrying to see funding has fallen so dramatically in the past six years.
‘The contrast between our two parties could not be clearer: today, Labour are launching a roadshow to help improve the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable children, whilst the Tories are presiding over damaging cuts, slashing support for the those that need help the most.
‘Only Labour can be trusted to give every child the best start in life. Through our National Education Service, we will invest in our children, halting the closures of Sure Start centres, increasing the amount of money available for children’s services and providing universal childcare for every two- to four-year-old.’
A Department for Education spokesperson said, 'We want every child to receive high-quality care and support.
'Spending on the most vulnerable children has increased by around half a billion pounds since 2010, and overall the government has made more than £200 billion available for council services up to 2020.
'On top of this we are working with councils to improve services and to share best practice across the country - and just last month the children and families minister announced £17 million to support this.'